The demo version, unsurprisingly, is rougher around the edges, although that’s certainly not a negative when it comes to the Replacements. The horns from the final studio version aren’t present, but the guitars still move with a heavy chug and the band drawls the song’s titular refrain, “I don’t know,” with expert apathy. In perhaps the most delightful difference from the final version, the song’s halfway point breakdown isn’t a steady count, but a hilarious descent into random screaming, monk-ish “ohhms” and someone yell-singing, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”
The demo version of “I Don’t Know” was recorded during the summer of 1986 at Blackberry Way Studios in Minneapolis. The band cut the demo not long after founding guitarist Bob Stinson was pushed out, making this one of the Replacements’ first recordings as a trio of Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson and Chris Mars.
The Pleased to Meet Me box set will feature 29 previously unreleased tracks, including demos, rough mixes and outtakes. While the “I Don’t Know” demo isn’t among them, seven of the unreleased demos in the set mark the Replacements’ final recordings with Bob Stinson.